Do HR Professionals 'need' to be qualified?

Plumbers, doctors, accountants, teachers, firefighters, life boat personnel – it’s hard to argue that they don’t need to have qualifications before administering their professional skills but does the same apply for HR employees or can you simply roll your sleeves up and learn ‘on’ and ‘in’ the job?
HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd
Do HR Professionals 'need' to be qualified?

Is holding an HR qualification an absolute necessity or can standards, benchmarks, technical skills and mindsets be learned while in the job?

I vividly remember 2001, I was working in a Barclay brothers' backed publishing start-up, we huddled around my bosses TV to watch the horrific 9/11 attacks unfold before our disbelieving eyes. It was also the year (one of the two) that I was prizing my eyes open as I burnt the candle at both ends, HR publisher by day, HR student by night. A two-year juggle ensued in which I gained my CIPD qualification and decided which of the two sliding doors I should squeeze through: HR management or HR publishing.

I chose the latter, perhaps to the disappointment of my bank balance but yet excited by the buzz of a by-line and exuberant by having some letters after my name that didn’t denote which family I had arisen from. It was hard graft, grit, and determination – a chasm of exhaustion, endless essay reporting and revision with highlighter pens that always ran out. So, what became of my qualification? Not a lot. It has of course opened doors in the HR publishing world because I am deemed (rightly or wrongly) to ‘know’ things, but that’s where it ends. The full stop cometh because of course it may have been different had I actually used it in the profession it is meant for. I did not.

The options

If you do a Google search of HR qualifications you are presented with a mind-boggling list, accompanied by some impressive acronyms, all closely followed by the word ‘certification’. The courses are numerous and varied. There are undergraduate HR degrees, post-graduate ones, the professional bodies own variety – with a sliding scale of both access and level, from foundation, intermediate and advanced. There are AVADO courses, the CIPD’s official partner and ones from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation too.

They (qualifications) help to ensure colleagues are equipped with the knowledge and framework to do their jobs and provide a clear set of professional standards to adhere to and provide parity with other professional roles such as finance and law

Gordon McFarlane | Assistant Director, Leicestershire County Council and President, PPMA

There are Open University courses, flexible access options, online and in-person choices. Some employers may fund all or part, others may need to go-it-alone, while Undergraduates will need to pay course tuition fees. Many HR professionals may start out in a junior position and gaining qualification may be part of the learning and development plan that the business has promised. There may also be allowances by the employer to take study leave or leave work to attend tutorials or lectures. There is a lot of choice and what is right for one person, may not be right for the next so it’s important that any HR qualification is undertaken with the full knowledge of the expectations and time involved and how it will be funded.

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